By | 1 December 2022

Write how quiet it is.
‘Starvation Camp Near Jaslo’, Wislawa Szymborska

The lines stretch out like a child’s drawing,
wavering, circling the block. These are people;
they clutch envelopes, papers, proof of lack.

They are hungry, they are afraid of going hungry.
The price of dignity. A reporter says No, she will not
go to the front of the line to demand answers—

The cafes are shuttered. There are no rooms
to while away the hours of the night, drinking.
A narrow bed will fit precisely the contours

of a single body lying flat on its back. Sheets
rumpled and pulled back like a discarded shroud.
Behind the glass whole alphabets are set loose.

Imagine the touch of a stranger—an unknown gift,
a leap of faith. A breath and its attendant dangers.
The carpet glitters with piles of spilled-over numbers.

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